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Poster: gulag picture radio Date: Dec 13, 2004 1:43pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: How can I check if these are PD?

I've started seeing collections of 10 DVD's that feature 50 sci-fi movies, or westerns, etc. They're cheap - like around $20 - making me think that most (if not all) of the titles might be PD. I'd like to use the PD ones on public access TV, and so would like to sniff around to see if certain ones are indeed PD. I've also found some TV episodes and feature films on DVD at the dollar store. Any tips on where to start learning the legal status of some of these?

Here's one of the collections BTW: http://www.cybercitysoftware.com/cacldvdmepa.html

At these prices, I've got to imagine that the picture quality isn't going to be the utmost... :) I also realize that since it's on Public Access, I probably don't need to go to these lengths to make sure it's all PD, but I'd kind of like to.

Thanks for any help!



This post was modified by gulag picture radio on 2004-12-13 21:43:15

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Poster: KGEMwalt Date: Dec 16, 2004 11:53am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: How can I check if these are PD?

Did you check with the "Feature Film" archives on the internet archives. They have over 360 films listed. I think were both curious about the same thing. I'm also checking for films I can put on Public Access. I've put programs together using Perlinger films. I call them "The Way We Were" I have guests discuss the film after viewing comparing the times the film was made with today. Yea for public access.

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Poster: akb Date: Dec 13, 2004 10:12pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: How can I check if these are PD?

The correct legal way to check is do a copyright registration search. That involves having someone look through cards at the Library of Congress in DC, you can also pay the LOC to do the search for you. I assume that's not practical.

One way which might be acceptable to give you a reasonable level of assurance that you are not going to get sued is to look through the online catalogs of reputable public domain stock houses, like Retrofilms.com.

One way this gets tricky is that many times when classics that may be public domain are released on DVD they are "restored" and may claim copyright on their restoration. Do the DVDs contain an assertion of copyright aside from the original?

A final thought, if you're satisfied that they are public domain please consider uploading full resolution mpeg2 versions of the material to the Archive so that the rest of the world can enjoy it. These sound like they would make a great addition here.

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Poster: scooter_nyc Date: Dec 20, 2004 8:17am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: How can I check if these are PD?

Not to go against the previous poster's advice to check with the Copyright Office just to be sure, but any outfit that's selling 50 movies for $25 is OBVIOUSLY working with PD materials. That's how they can afford to price it that low.

It's true that one can take a PD property and, through restoration, make it into a copyrightable work. But it's also true that some companies attempt to assert copyright over a PD property without changing them at all. I've seen a couple of companies selling the Prelinger stuff that tried to do that.

Something I've noticed: true PD stuff is always priced incredibly cheaply. Restored (and thus truly copyrighted) versions of PD films are always priced much higher.

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Poster: gulag picture radio Date: Dec 20, 2004 2:59pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: How can I check if these are PD?

I figured that the thrifty price of the collections went a long way to asserting the PD status if the films, but those big companies make mistakes sometimes. I would also imagine that some of those movies could possibly still be in copyright, just absurdly cheap to buy? Just a thought.

I've done searches of LIbrary of COngress materials online before, but didn't know if that was really enough as far as research goes.

Thanks for the great help so far guys!

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Poster: scooter_nyc Date: Dec 20, 2004 3:12pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: How can I check if these are PD?

About the big companies making mistakes: I don't know about that. Generally, I'd suspect that they research the PD status of films pretty carefully before ordering up thousands of DVDs to sell all over the country. I'd imagine that it would be a very expensive copyright infringement case for them in the event they were wrong.

On the other hand, it's certainly possible. There are some films that are clearly PD ("Reefer Madness," the original "Little Shop of Horrors," etc.) and others that are questionable for a variety of reasons. The DVD megapacks that you provided the link for seem to contain both. And who knows? The company that produced them could already be out of business or located in a country where they might be immune from prosecution themselves. Anything's possible.

To be completely safe, I'd research using the Copyright Office listings (which tells you what IS clearly copyrighted, but not what isn't) as well as the PD broadcast suppliers lists (Retrofilm, Desert Island Media) and big PD retailers like Alpha Video. A match across the board--not listed with the Copyright office and listed with the other places--pretty much assures Public Domain status in my mind.

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Poster: moxey Date: Jun 5, 2005 11:30am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: How can I check if these are PD?

these dvd packs are made by treeline video.the quality runs from great to terrible.no expert but i dont belive they might be restored.
the horror and sci-fi packs are great.
and they do have public domain films included because some of these films are here on the archive.
for example.the movie white zombie is in this pack and the quality is much better than that on the archive.sound and video.but i would not say its restored due to its flaws.
but what do i know??? lol.